School Of Dank

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Terminology can be confusing. NoTill?

Does anyone till their pots?

Well, the term denotes a philosophy, in effect, more than a perfect descriptor.

The idea being to protect the microlife of the soil. Tilling the soil in a  farm setting turns the soil over and exposes bacteria and fungi to ultraviolet light and weather exposure, killing it off in great quantities while destroying the structure of the humic soil by removing any healthy roots existing in the soil, thereby damaging all the systems in place for the plant to thrive.

In Cannabis production the same is experienced through high intensity lighting and pots that are considerably smaller than the room a plant would find in nature.

The microlife, says the notiller, is what will be lacking in the soil. Effort is put into creating the conditions necessary for all the Natural systems to be in place to allow a plant to reach it's perfect genetic expression.

Notill aims for a recreation of a Natural formation of soil, which is as follows:

Soil the world over is made from the same constituents : Sand, Silt, Rock, Clay, Pebbles.

What makes it unique is the organic material, amount of water, prevalence of the natural microlife, and temperature.

Into local soil falls organic material, water is introduced, proper temperatures are reached, and bacterial and fungal life from the organic material blossoms into activity. Composting organisms break organic material down into base carbon, while consuming the minerals and nutrients and storing it within themselves. Mycorrhizal fungi sprout, attach themselves to any roots available and begin to spread throughout the base carbon. The Hyphae of the fungi reaches outwards, up to ten times the reach of the host root system, and penetrates the base carbon, then retracts and holds the structure in place, creating airspaces, storage chambers, and passageways in the soil.. The hyphae of the Mycorrhizal fungi exudes a substance called glomalin, which saturates and binds the base carbon like concrete. Humic soil is created, which is the perfect home for the food chain of the soil.

Water is stored in Humic soils, warming and cooling the soil as required by temperature fluctuations, and providing moisture on a constant basis for all the organisms within the soil.

Humic soil is an ionic bridge, capturing heavy metals and pollutants in forms unavailable to the life in the soil, while other life sets to breaking it down to useful base components. Cannabis is a powerful partner in soil remediation.

The passageways in the soil are soon filled with bacteria, fungi, micro arthropods, nematodes, protozoa, and arthropods, all filling places in the food chain.

A whole microworld, where bacteria live out their lives in as short a span as an hour, wildly reproducing, and storing nutrients within the bodies. Preying on those bacteria are their predators, protozoa, nematodes and arthropods, liberating the stored nutrients within them, in a perfectly available form for plant uptake.

The plant, meanwhile, is exuding proteins, sugars, and carbohydrates, attracting the bacteria to the roots. The bacteria come for Cakes and Cookies, and the plant benefits when the bacteria finds it's death and the liberation of the nutrients within it. The plant and attached fungal hyphae draw the nutrients into the plant.

Meanwhile, the storage chambers of the Humic soil are catching and storing the liberated nutrients, as well. Nutrients in Humic soil are stored until use, so almost perfect efficiency is realized. The Humic soil is also drawing carbon from the very air, as well, increasing and expanding it's reach, as carbon is stored away for use in the soil.

The notill, grower realizes the crucial role that plant roots play in the system and supplies companion crops and cover crops, to protect the Humic system playing out in the soil, making sure nothing affects the delicate balance.

They also realize that ultraviolet light and environmental conditions effect soil health, while a high demand crop is being grown, and so supplements the soil life by way of compost, replacing the ranks of the soil critters who might be having a hard time of it. This is top dressed, which knocks back some of the cover and thereby provides organic matter to the soil to renew the cycle, following a simulated pattern of seasons.

With soil created properly, and base carbon from a variety of sources supplemented seasonally, a perpetual system is thereby created which only grows more and more fertile as time goes by, if conditions are maintained. The sources of life within this compost are best found on the property where the garden will be, to acquire the local microlife, so battles between locals and "foreign" microlife are not constantly waged within the soil until equilibrium is found.

The no till grower grows soil, which perfectly sustains a plant to find it's perfect genetic expression, due to the variety and availability of plant nutrients delivered by organisms within the soil to the root structures.

This is not just a saying, as the life of Humic soil can be as much as 50% of the soil by weight. Without that 50%  one has dirt, not soil. Humic soil is perfectly ph'd, and never requires any sort of adjustment, as the soil life is managing the task along with the plant itself in exudates.

Chemical salt growing kills the microlife with toxic chemicals designed to take the place of the microlife by providing a limited range of "chelated" nutrients, chemically prepared for uptake straight by the roots. Since the majority of organisms within the soil haven't been cataloged yet, it is highly unlikely that science will ever replicate effectively the spread and variety of nutrients available to plants in a natural system. Bacteria bring "Terps"!

The notill grower tries to replicate as much of the system as possible, within their ability, due to location, availability of sources of organic material, etc. Most are aiming for a natural system, but must make substitutions in some places.

Notill is naturally organic, as the organisms in the soil are responsible for soil health, breaking down material and extracting nutrients, while the Humic soil itself traps and stores toxins, ensuring the plant is not contaminated.

So you see, No till is not about taking a hoe to your pots, it's about a theory for growing.

It is the attempt to grow a plant like Mother Nature would, and creating the environment where she might step in and do just that for us.

Hope that brings some clarity for a few. Obviously a simple version of events in the soil, but it should be enough to inspire any questions.


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Great post! I love reading about this stuff, so dam interesting and cool! I love it when someone asks what I feed my plants and seeing the look on their faces when I say “nothing, I feed my dirt!” Lol

Quote from Blayzed76 on June 5, 2018, 2:29 pm

Great post! I love reading about this stuff, so dam interesting and cool! I love it when someone asks what I feed my plants and seeing the look on their faces when I say “nothing, I feed my dirt!” Lol

I whip out the microscope and show them, when they get that quizzical look saying they doubt me.  🙂

Thank you so much for this post. It was one hell of an interesting read! I have a quick question though. How often do you have to add more amendments to the soil? I have never worked organically and want to get my knowledge up before I make the leap.


Quote from J.Smoker on June 9, 2018, 9:30 pm

Thank you so much for this post. It was one hell of an interesting read! I have a quick question though. How often do you have to add more amendments to the soil? I have never worked organically and want to get my knowledge up before I make the leap.


With a system that is so interconnected, there are no simple questions if one truly wants to understand the state of things. However, knowing a good general outline of things can lead one to wise choices even though the learning never stops.

I strive for a "Natural organic" system, which is the "nazi notill" version. ?  I do no supplementation in my pots, per se, the supplementation occurs in my compost pile. I aim to keep the "composters" in the compost pile, because the variety of organic amendments I use can throw everything off in a carefully regulated system.

To explain: It is my belief, which seems to stand up to scientific scrutiny, that each organism in the soil has a job to do. What I am looking for is a natural balance of soil organisms. That balance can be thrown off when one type of material or another is added to the pot and a "Bloom" occurs of the organisms which decompose that material.  In your pot, I do not believe it is helpful, in a perfect world way, to have "kelp eaters" taking over and running things for a week or so.

You can scroll through Joshua Steensland's notill grow on YouTube a year or so ago, to see a Wood Louse takeover for a short time. This was caused by amending too heavily with such things as kelp and nitrogen rich amendments. Ordinarily your soil is the perfect home for the soil critters, but in an overgrow situation you can have them all over your house or yard... same goes for the microscopic critters in the soil, in a much harder to diagnose way.

I do my composting in a compost pile, where war is the natural state of things, and the pile is always moving towards a natural balance that will be thrown off again as soon as I add another variety of organic matter. Some bacteria live a lifetime as short as an hour, and breed profusely, so it is inevitable that a balance will be found. Each organism mining a nutrient or trace mineral to exchange with your plants for the "Cakes and Cookies" it offers as root exudates. By the time a balance is found, the organisms are living in rich, "finished" compost. Dark, Rich, and smelling of the Soil after a hard rain. It is the organisms themselves which give the compost that smell, not the soil constituents, so I know when it is perfectly ready to be amended to the top of my pots. When my compost pile smells like an old growth forest, my plants will enjoy it immensely! Top dressing with finished compost every time the soil subsides, will ensure that your soil constantly GETS BETTER and more widely populated with soil organisms.

I use as many sources of organic material as I can scramble together, and they all go in the pile as Browns or Greens. I will amend with Rock Dusts, as well, to bring the "prehistoric foundation" to the life in the soil, as well, because rock eaters are the foundation of healthy soil. I will also use sea resources to bring concentrated trace elements to the mix; kelp, Sea- 90, and the like.

You are trying to mimic the soil structure preferred by equatorial plants, as a general rule, except when running a pure Indica, which is prone to rocky soils and prefers a stronger base of "rock eaters" in the mix. In equatorial regions, composting happens at a breakneck pace, and tons of organic materials are constantly added to the soils, so I am constantly adding organic elements to my compost pile. In a compost pile, thousands of tons of organic material can be reduced to a pound of base carbon, enveloped in the soil life.

The upside of all this stuff that sounds like hard work, is that Humic soil is the very icon of efficiency in the natural world. Your plant will make TEN TIMES, as a minimum, use of the amendments you add, than comparable chemical salts, which will kill the biology in your soil. So, once healthy, Humic soil is cultured (that is the proper word as the soil biology ends up being 50% or more of the soil constituency) a minimum of ten runs will occur before elements begin lacking in the soil. LOTS of time to complete a 21 day composting cycle in your compost pile, which will bump up populations again as you top dress with finished compost.

It is fundamental that you realize, when one begins organic growing, that no longer are you feeding plants; you are feeding the soil life. It is the soil life that you are replacing. The finished compost will provide the broken down nutrients and Carbon sources to keep the soil biology alive and thriving, while at the same time replacing the biology which may have perished from the strong UV of the lights and the exposure that occurs in a pot environment. 50%, BY WEIGHT, of the soil will be microscopic organism, nematodes, and arthropods. THEY are your charges, not so much the plants. The plants are programmed by DNA to express their qualities, and if you provide them everything they desire, perfection will naturally result if you have managed conditions.

Buying compost in bags will ensure that anaerobic, as well as the desired aerobic organisms, are thrown into the mix in your soil, because plastic bags are anaerobic environments, so anaerobic organisms will flourish in the bag.

Is it possible to grow organically using store bought amendments? Yes. I would even argue that such is superior to chemical salts, if one is concerned with medicinal quality. Is it possible to top dress amendments and allow composting to happen in your pots? Yes, again. But you will never, in my personal opinion, reach the top shelf of top shelf medicine. Will it be better than WalMart weed grown by chem salts? Yes, for medicinal effect, IMO.

But I explained all that not to recruit you to Nazi Notill, or to work you half to death collecting supplements in your neighborhood, but to give you a foundation, so you know where you are taking shortcuts, and what you can improve should you be able at a later date.

I know that's sort of rambling, but this is off the top of my head and I am easily distracted, so I will answer any questions you may have.  ?

Others may wish to chime in with specific amendments and their own experiences with such.

Hope that helps.  ?

Wow! Thank you for such a detailed explanation. What you described as rambling I call a vast amount of knowledge on the subject. Thanks again.

Quote from J.Smoker on June 12, 2018, 12:11 pm

Wow! Thank you for such a detailed explanation. What you described as rambling I call a vast amount of knowledge on the subject. Thanks again.

Welcome. I consider it my super power to defeat the misinformation Monsanto, Bayer, and the other giants have promulgated, trying to corner the Ag markets in the world. They teach our kids erroneous information in high dollar schools, while destroying the soil life in the world, all for the profits that roll in from selling folks the "fix" for the damage they have done. But Mother Nature has ALWAYS done the job better, as long as we don't fall for the "We can't feed all the people in the world!" trickery. GMO seeds and chemical salts threaten to change our world permanently, and not for the better. What's the big problem in Ag these days? Global warming. A natural cycle that is out of whack, because we have destroyed the Carbon Sink that used to blanket the planet.  🙁

So this is just what I do.  I'm firmly on the Green Team.  🙂

I respect it! and Love no till